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5/13/2011
02:22 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Google I/O Take-Away: Google Trusts The Cloud

Everything that Google revealed at its I/O developer conference this week in San Francisco hinges on one important thing: Google's utter trust and belief in the cloud.

There have been some spectacular cloud failures in the last few weeks. Consider Amazon's recent problems. Several weeks ago, its Amazon Web Services was taken out completely by what amounts to human error. The outage lasted for days and kept businesses separated from their critical data. And Friday afternoon, Google restored service to its Blogger product after a 24-hour outage. These and other outages clearly demonstrate the need to have contingency plans just in case the cloud fails (which, apparently, it does).

But that's not stopping Google, heck no.

The biggest announcements to come from Google I/O this week were the Google Music service and the Chrome OS update--both of which are fully dependent on the cloud.

Looking first at Google Music, it allows users to upload (legally purchased) music to Google's servers and then stream it back to browsers and/or Android handsets. According to Google, users can upload up to 20,000 songs (so far, I've uploaded 1,800 of my 18,000), and then access it anywhere there's an Internet connection. The service goes head-to-head with Amazon's aptly named Cloud Drive.

The revised Chrome OS takes cloud services to a new level. Chrome OS ties together all of Google's services (Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Picasa, etc.) and lets users access them from dedicated Chrome OS netbooks. The netbooks require an Internet connection to reach user data and services. Without access to the cloud, Chrome OS netbooks will be little more than large paperweights.

Google's services bank on the assumption that the Internet will always be available and that its servers will always be running. That's a huge amount of trust.

Google contends that cloud services are ideal for businesses, and sells that promise to corporate customers looking to free themselves of their local server shackles. It has an entire series of posts on "Going Google," which highlight corporate, education, and government institutions that have placed their faith in the Google cloud.

On a personal level, I have banked on Google's cloud services for nearly five years. All of my writing is stored in Google Docs, and Gmail, Calendar, Reader, Maps, News, Voice, and other Google cloud services are part of my everyday tools for getting my job done. In all that time, Gmail has gone screwy several times, but every other service has worked consistently.

At the end of the day, I've placed my trust in Google and its cloud.

What I want to know is, what's behind Google's faith in itself? Is it warranted? Are its uptime percentages good enough? Are those percentages enough for most businesses and--more importantly--governments?

What's clear is that Google's faith in the cloud is unshaken, no matter the downsides, and it hopes that we convert to cloud believers, too.


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